Zeal in Accordance with Knowledge

From Lynda Lindsey 

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Romans 10:1-2

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:8-10

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11

Paul, zealous for the gospel of Jesus Christ, was especially grieved by the Jews who rejected Jesus as Messiah. Paul lamented that although the Jews were zealous for God, their zeal was not in accordance with true knowledge. Zeal, the passion, energy and enthusiasm with which we embrace a particular cause, motivates and defines us; our singleminded dedication shapes our life’s direction as we abandon ourselves to that cause. The danger? We can zealously embrace untruths, or partial truths, leaving us with incomplete and false knowledge and understanding.

Many Jews, while zealous for God, had only a partial, incomplete understanding of salvation. Relying on their sincerity to keep the law, they were ignorant of the One way of righteousness. By rejecting Paul’s sound teaching they sought to establish a righteousness of their own making. Salvation, however, comes by faith in Christ, not zeal, not sincerity, not legalistic law keeping. We don’t need to travel, searching high and low, for righteousness. God is near to us, in our mouth and heart, when we confess with our mouth, believe in our heart, and bow in submission to Christ the Lord.

Believe the Good News: Jesus died and rose again to save sinners! God graciously bestows His riches on all who believe and call on Him. Once we’ve known and experienced God’s grace and mercy, once we’ve tasted His goodness, we’re compelled to serve; good works result because we’ve been saved, not as a means of achieving salvation. Zeal for God even makes us willing to suffer for His cause. Zeal is good if it’s in accordance with truth and knowledge. Right standing before God is not consumer designed; weigh carefully what you hear, read, and are taught.